By James Wigderson for Media Trackers
Some things just can’t wait. Wisconsin’s Republican Party is targeting four Democratic candidates ahead of the August 14 primary election with radio ads in key markets around the state.
The four Democrats are: state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, firefighter union boss Mahlon Mitchell, former state Democratic Party Chairman Matt Flynn and former state Rep. Kelda Roys (D-Madison).
According to a statement from the Republican Party on Tuesday, each of the four Democrats are flawed in ways that merit special mention in the radio spots.
Evers is attacked in an ad for failing to take away the license of a teacher who viewed pornography at the school where he taught and made inappropriate comments about female students. Evers failed to act in this case, despite the outcry from school officials and parents, even though he had acted in a similar case before he was superintendent.
Flynn is criticized for his behavior as an attorney for the Milwaukee Archdiocese when victims of abuses by priests sued for damages. A number of the victims have called for Flynn to drop out of the race, but most of Flynn’s fellow Democrats have not joined in the call.
Mitchell is accused of using the firefighters union as his own personal campaign fund while taking large pay raises from the organization.
Roys is criticized for putting the public in danger with her proposal to reduce the state’s prison population by half, even if it meant returning violent criminals to the streets of Milwaukee and elsewhere.
“Whether it’s Tony Evers failing families, Matt Flynn bullying victims of sexual abuse, Mahlon Mitchell abusing his position, or Kelda Roys putting families in danger, Democrats are locked into a dangerous race to the left,” said Mark Morgan, Executive Director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “Wisconsin voters can’t trust any one of these candidates to keep them safe or fight for their best interests.”
That the Republicans chose those four Democrats to attack is likely not just the luck of the draw.
In the last Marquette University Law School poll, Evers led the pack by a substantial margin but most Democrats were still undecided. However, Evers, Flynn, Mitchell and Roys are the four candidates that are most capable of going to the airwaves to support their campaigns.
By spending money now on radio ads, Republicans are likely trying to define each of the four likeliest opponents for Governor Scott Walker and highlight their vulnerabilities with the targeted radio ad campaign.
For example, the Milwaukee suburbs are especially sensitive on the crime issue right now, and so Republicans may be thinking Roys’ plan to reduce the prison population will make an unpopular introduction. Likewise, the Milwaukee and Green Bay areas were hardest hit by the Catholic Church abuse scandals, so targeting Flynn in those areas could define him before he can define himself in those areas. Evers and Mitchell are somewhat more familiar figures who have run statewide races, so Republicans may be focused on defining them in the swing areas of Northern and Western Wisconsin where they may still be less familiar figures.